[Sinn Fein]

1 June 2000

Patten Report `gutted' - New Police service needed

Speaking at a Sinn Fein press conference in Dublin which preceded a special briefing for TDs and Senators Cavan/Monaghan TD Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin said:

``Today's press conference has been called to highlight the widespread alarm and anger among nationalists and republicans and among many others concerned with civil liberties at the Policing Bill published on 16 May by the British government.

``Central and essential recommendations of the Patten Report on Policing have been diluted or removed. The media focus has been on the issue of the name and badge of the new police service. It must be stressed that while these issues are very important there are other very fundamental flaws in the Policing Bill.

``To put it bluntly, the Patten Report has been `gutted'.

``The Policing Bill fails to implement Patten's recommendations on the Policing Board, the Ombudsman, District Policing Partnerships, the oath which is now only to be taken by new recruits and not by all members, the code of ethics and the name, badge and symbols of the new service. Patten's proposals on these and other matters have either been omitted, watered down or left for decision by the British Secretary of State.

``On 6 May, in the wake of the discussions at Hillsborough which led to the re-establishment of the Executive, the British and Irish governments sent an open letter to the party leaders, including the President of Sinn Fein Gerry Adams. In that letter they stated that the British government would implement the Patten Report. The British government has failed to do so. This Policing Bill does not implement Patten.

``Sinn Fein has received an unprecedented response from our members and supporters who are incensed at the way in which long-promised and long-overdue measures to transform policing and rid us of the sectarian legacy of the RUC are being reneged on.

``Policing is a core issue on which the entire future of the peace process depends. That is why we called this press conference and that is why we have organised today's delegation to the Oireachtas to brief TDs and Senators on this very important issue.

``In answer to a Dáil question from me on Tuesday the Taoiseach repeated the Irish government's `full commitment to the Patten Report'. Again in the Dáil yesterday the Taoiseach spoke of the need for the full implementation of the Patten Report. This has been echoed by SDLP representatives and by a number of British Labour MPs. It is vital that all sections of political opinion in this State also make clear the unacceptability of anything short of an entirely new beginning for policing in the North of Ireland.''

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